The Girl in His Shadow: Book summary and reviews of The Girl in His Shadow by Audrey Blake

The Girl in His Shadow

by Audrey Blake

The Girl in His Shadow by Audrey Blake X
The Girl in His Shadow by Audrey Blake
Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

The story of one woman who believed in scientific medicine before the world believed in her.

Raised by the eccentric surgeon Dr. Horace Croft after losing her parents to a deadly pandemic, the orphan Nora Beady knows little about conventional life. While other young ladies were raised to busy themselves with needlework and watercolors, Nora was trained to perfect her suturing and anatomical illustrations of dissections.

Women face dire consequences if caught practicing medicine, but in Croft's private clinic Nora is his most trusted―and secret―assistant. That is until the new surgical resident Dr. Daniel Gibson arrives. Dr. Gibson has no idea that Horace's bright and quiet young ward is a surgeon more qualified and ingenuitive than even himself. In order to protect Dr. Croft and his practice from scandal and collapse Nora must learn to play a new and uncomfortable role―that of a proper young lady.

But pretense has its limits. Nora cannot turn away and ignore the suffering of patients even if it means giving Gibson the power to ruin everything she's worked for. And when she makes a discovery that could change the field forever, Nora faces an impossible choice. Remain invisible and let the men around her take credit for her work, or let the world see her for what she is―even if it means being destroyed by her own legacy.

Paperback Original

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Though she's more qualified, Nora worries about being replaced by Daniel. Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? What did you do about it?
  2. Dr. Croft often resorts to disreputable methods of getting subjects, such as paying grave robbers or taking advantage of grieving family members. For him, the ends justify the means. Do you agree with him? To what extent?
  3. Throughout the story, Nora conducts a series of experiments and independent studies. What was she hoping to learn?
  4. We get to see nineteenth century medical techniques through Nora's eyes. Which treatments surprised you the most? Are there any techniques that carried over into modern medicine?
  5. Nora is one of only a few women in a field dominated by men. Do you see any parallels...

You can see the full discussion here. This discussion will contain spoilers!

Some of the recent comments posted about The Girl in His Shadow:

Can the respect of a mentor and care of a devoted housekeeper supplant parental affection?
Yes, absolutely they can. Nora was raised by Mrs. Phipps and Dr. Croft, and encouraged to follow her interests. Neither of them, however, was affectionate the way a parent might be, such as hugs. Mrs. Phipps always looked out for her emotional ... - kdowney25

Can you disapprove of a person without disapproving of their upbringing?
Yes-I believe you can disapprove of a person without disapproving of their upbringing. There are many examples where people transcended their upbringing and became a person free of those influences-either to the benefit or detriment of that person. A... - Loveslife

Compare Daniel's relationship with Mae and his relationship with Nora. How are they different? Are they similar in any way?
Daniel's relationship with Mae was the one dictated by society. She was of the right social class, desired only to be well-supported, bear his children and run his household. Nora was totally different -- she was his intellectual equal and ... - laurap

Do you see any parallels between Nora's situation in the nineteenth century and today?
I think it's good to read books like The Girl in His Shadow to show us how far women have come. When you learn how restrictive things were in the 1800s, you realize how many strides we have made. I've seen a lot of changes in my 55 years &#... - jodyh

Do you think "disciple" is the right word to describe what Nora is to Croft? Do you think it’s better to pledge yourself to an ideal or to another person?
I totally agree with Katherinep. However, while it is absolutely true that Croft fostered Nora's interest in all things medical, I doubt whether she would have been interested in medicine had she been raised by others. There would have been ... - kdowney25

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

"With its strong woman protagonist and authentic period detail, this is the best kind of historical fiction, transporting readers to a place and time peopled with memorable characters. Readers who enjoy medical drama will gravitate to this book." - Library Journal

"In The Girl in His Shadow, Audrey Blake takes the reader on an exquisitely detailed journey through the harrowing field of medicine in mid-19th century London. Nora, the ward of the eccentric and brilliant surgeon Horace Croft, learns far more than any woman is allowed. Bravely saving lives while risking her own, she defies the law to pioneer breakthroughs in medicine." - Tracey Enerson Wood, international bestselling author of The Engineer's Wife

"A suspenseful story of a courageous young woman determined to become a surgeon in repressive Victorian England. Fluidly written, impeccably researched, The Girl in His Shadow is a memorable literary gift to be read, reread, and treasured." - Gloria Goldreich, author of The Paris Children

This information about The Girl in His Shadow shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Sonia Francis

The audacity of a female
Nora, an orphan in 19th century London has lost her parents to cholera and is raised by Dr. Croft . The tenacity and persistence of Nora to risk it all in a Victorian society where women’s role in medicine is zero is absolutely shunned on to the point of criminality. Nora is defiant that she she won’t be the homemaker: not knitting, not baking cookies. She follows Dr Croft around, she reads, learns her anatomy, practices on the cadavers, learns to do sutures and mend wounds - all of this done clandestinely, because she is not supposed to be in this role.
This novel hooked me right in and didn’t let me go. I totally enjoyed the medical aspect especially the surgery performed on a patient with gangrenous bowel. Even if you were not in the health field, you were awed by the surgical settings. It was made better with a little romance thrown in by a doctor (Daniel) who at first had issues with Nora being “ in the way” until she proved herself knowledgeable and capable.
An absolute gem of a book with characters ranging from hero to villains. I loved it because of the enlightenment towards women in the 19th century and thinking how far women has come. I wished that Nora did not have to leave Daniel and I would always wonder if they will ever meet again. There should be a sequel.

Katherine Pond

Women Cannot Practice Medicine!
Received a copy of this book to discuss on BookBrowse. I found it incredibly interesting for many reasons. As a pre-med grad and a teacher of Anatomy and Physiology for about 30 years the history of women in science and the restrictions on their opportunities to study and practice medicine, while not unfamiliar to me, was presented in a very personable way. It was very easy to identify with Nora and her interest in and fascination with the human body and its diseases. To have a mentor such as Dr Croft was such a gift to her. And yet, though she is as talented and bright as any male med student she could not legally apply her knowledge nor be certified to practice medicine. In this regard, Italy was far ahead of its time in being supportive of the life of a woman in a professional capacity, beyond the kitchen and nursery. That actually was a hallmark of Italian society well before the 19th century!
Besides the story of Nora and women's place in society, is the revelation of the rudimentary practice called medicine only a bit more than a century ago. Sometimes, we forget just how far the knowledge of the human body and its functions has come in a relatively short time. The conflict of egos among the men practicing is also interesting to learn. Though, truth be told, that hasn't change d much as evidenced by all the doctors, epidemiologists etc that have come out of the woodwork during this latest pandemic. Each of them sure of their positions and each of them happy to grandstand and proclaim them loudly--despite the confusion their cacophony has produced among the people of the world.
The characters are all very well drawn and the personality of each is easy to envision. From the housekeeper who is the only mother Nora has really known to the young doctors who find her appealing, each of them is three dimensional and relatable. Considering the story could have been bogged down in textbook style presentation of the experiments and surgeries and treatments described, it is a joy to say, none of it is boring or overly descriptive--just enough for reality but not so much to repel. Well done, ladies!

carriem

The Girl in His Shadow
An engaging historical fiction about one woman’s struggle to use her abilities and knowledge in medicine and science during Victorian times in London and the societal roadblocks she faced. Nora has mentors that support and encourage her but there are obstacles and decisions she must reach including going beyond boundaries set for her and breaking of an agreed upon confidence. One of her initial skeptics and later supporters develops into a mutual romantic interest. An excellent book for book groups because there are many points and views to discuss.

Jos

Girl Power
Good historical Fiction on women and medicine set in the mid 1800s London. The book examines how women were band from practicing medicine and ethical situations in discovering lifesaving techniques. There is a big romance set in this book,
but enough medical experiments and surgeries to keep this geeky science girl interested! The Historical references were good and interesting and the characters were complex and endearing. In some ways the romance was important in context to demonstrate the difficulties of women trying to break that glass ceiling and all the rules of convention it involved but I felt it was too predictable and was tiresome at times. I really adore Nora the main character who is adopted by a distracted but brilliant Doctor and his housekeeper. The Doctor is inclined to step out of “the box,” when it comes to how and who is practicing medicine, so Nora is not denied a brilliant education in science however impractical it will be to her. Nora is bright, compassionate and has strong moral values yet she is totally unconventional for her time throwing many people in her life off guard! However, this never stops Nora from pushing forward to obtain her dreams and I felt akin to her right away. A book I would recommend to fellow historical fiction lovers. Interesting note about the author Audrey Blake, which is a pseudonym of Jaime Fixsen of Canada and Regina Sirois of Kansas! Being from Kansas, I loved this book involved a local author How fun!!

Susan P

An Unexpected Ending
The story of a young woman who has a talent for medicine during a time when women were not allowed to practice as doctors has been told before. But, this time, the story has an unexpected twist at the end. The story in between beginning and end is entertaining, has good character development and captured this reader's imagination. A most enjoyable read and I recommend it as a good book club discussion book.

Christine

Thoroughly Enjoyed!
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Handled the subject really well without being patronizing - even the romance was done well without making the woman “weak” and “lose” herself.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Author Information

Audrey Blake Author Biography

Audrey Blake is the pseudonym of Jaima Fixsen and Regina Sirois, two authors who met as finalists of a writing contest and have been writing together ever since. They share a love of history, nature, literature, and stories of inspiring women. Jaima hails from Alberta, Canada and Regina from Kansas.

Author Interview

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more historical fiction...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Winter in Sokcho
    Winter in Sokcho
    by Elisa Dusapin
    Our unnamed narrator is a young French-Korean woman who works at a guest house in Sokcho, a popular ...
  • Book Jacket: Second Place
    Second Place
    by Rachel Cusk
    Rachel Cusk's Outline trilogy drew much of its substance from monologues and dialogues that swirled ...
  • Book Jacket: The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman
    The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman
    by Julietta Henderson
    The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman is the comedic debut novel of writer Julietta Henderson. It ...
  • Book Jacket: In Search of a Kingdom
    In Search of a Kingdom
    by Laurence Bergreen
    The Age of Exploration in the early modern period, lasting roughly from the 15th through 16th ...

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Girl in His Shadow
by Audrey Blake
The story of one woman who believed in scientific medicine before the world believed in her.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Ariadne
    by Jennifer Saint

    A mesmerizing debut novel about Ariadne, Princess of Crete for fans of Madeline Miller's Circe.

  • Book Jacket

    Crossing the River
    by Carol Smith

    A powerful exploration of grief that combines memoir, reportage, and lessons in how to heal.

Who Said...

A million monkeys...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

A S I T closet

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.